Explosions heard as rival militias battle to control international airport in Libya's capital


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Smoke rises on the horizon in Tripoli, Libya, early Sunday, July 13, 2014. Explosions and gunfire have been heard around the international airport in Libya's capital as airlines have canceled some international flights. The fighting erupted Sunday morning, though it was unclear who was involved. Libya has seen fierce fighting between rival militias since the 2011 civil war that toppled dictator Moammar Gadhafi. (AP Photo/Mohammed Ben Khalifa)


CAIRO — Rival militias battled Sunday for the control of the international airport in Libya's capital, as gunfire and explosions echoed through the city and airlines canceled some international flights.

A member of a revolutionary battalion attached to Libya's army chief of staff that took part in the battle said fierce fighting raged between Libyan forces and allied militias and a powerful militia from Zintan that controls the airport.

Those living close by said troops surrounded the airfield and fired rockets at buildings inside. Thick columns of black smoke rose overhead and could be seen from downtown Tripoli. There were no immediate casualty figures from the fighting.

Authorities had said Saturday that the airport was to have been handed over into government control. The government largely relies on the same militias to police the streets as its security forces remain in disarray.

Libya has seen fierce fighting between rival militias since the 2011 civil war that toppled dictator Moammar Gadhafi.

Egypt's national carrier EgyptAir said it canceled two flights Sunday to Tripoli as hundreds of travelers remained inside the airport waiting for it to re-open. Both British Airways and Turkish Airlines also canceled flights Sunday.

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